How to Wow Your Friends at Dinner Parties Every Time!

How a mismatched meal could save your dinner party.

How to Wow Your Friends at Dinner Parties Every Time! blog image


How to Wow Your Friends at Dinner Parties Every Time!

I have lost count of how many times I’ve had a meal with an amazing starter only for it to be followed by a decidedly average main course. I bet this has happened to you too.

Well, we’re not alone and this phenomenon even has a name ‘hedonic contrast’. And even better, there’s something that can be done about it!

How to reduce hedonic contrast

Now researchers from Drexel University in Philadelphia have put this to the test to see if they could reduce the hedonic contrast, so that you can enjoy both courses as much.

First they fed people with two courses, one with a mediocre bruschetta starter and then a pasta main course. With the second group they gave them a good bruschetta starter and the same pasta main. 

What they found was that the second group didn’t enjoy their pasta course as much as the first group, meaning that how much you like your starter will affect how much you like your second course.

Now you could just feed your guests so-so starters so they rave about your main course, but there’s another way…

A bit more research 

Then they did a bit more research where the quality of the starters was good in both meals but, they mismatched the cuisine. 

So, they fed people two courses of a cuisine that matched, in this case an Italian minestrone soup and an Italian pasta dish, aglio olio pepperoncino (spaghetti with chilli garlic and olive oil). One of our favourite pasta dishes by the way. 

Then they fed another group of people a completely mismatched meal of Thai tom kha soup followed by the aglio olio pepperoncino

Guess what they found

What they found was that the second group rated their main course way higher than the first group, meaning that if you mismatch cuisine over two courses you’ll enjoy the overall meal much more. 

Try it yourself 

So the first thing we did when we read this was cook a mismatched meal and do you know what, both courses tasted great. 

Now we're going to do a bit more testing with this theory the next time we have a dinner party. I don’t think we’ll go as far as asking our friends to rate the meal, but it will be interesting to see how they react to a meal with such different cuisines and if they enjoy the main course more than usual. 

Why don’t you try it yourself? If would be great to hear what you think and if you agree.

Source – Science Direct –

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Surya Wright

Surya Wright

Co-founder, production manager

I'm our communications and marketing person, dealing with social media and copywriting. I also work with Matt and Ric overseeing the design and strategic management of the site. I'm also the author of the Eva the Hungry Amoeba children's book series (only one so far). You can find it on Amazon. My favourite foods, shepherds pie and smoked haddock!

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